The Mets are joining a new wave of teams that will get rid of bullpen roles and put pitchers in the most necessary spots in a game.
On day 2 of the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida, Mets manager Mickey Callaway talked about his bullpen and what his philosophy will be for it for the upcoming season.
Callaway’s decision to forgo specific roles in the bullpen, mainly the closer, will be an interesting one to say the least. Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen managers adopt this mentality in the playoffs when they’ve brought in their best relievers in risky situations early on in the game.
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The Cleveland Indians under Terry Francona were famous for doing this the last two postseasons. The Cubs’ Joe Maddon is another manager that has decided “bullpenning” was the way to go in playoffs.
Callaway’s goal to make this be his approach in the regular season, however, is somewhat new. The baseball season is excruciatingly long at 162 games, so this could come in handy when dealing with minimizing the workload for the team’s main bullpen guys.
The idea of the closer is a dumb concept in general any way. In games, there are many times that a team’s biggest scoring threat is in the 7th or 8th inning. Logic would tell us that that is when the opposing team should try to shut down any scoring chance with their best pitcher. A 9th inning of 7-8-9 hitters should naturally be less important than an 8th inning with runners on the corners and no outs, for example.
It will definitely be interesting to see how the pitchers react to this change. Many closers believe and have said publicly that the “save situation” gets them more pumped up to come in to a game. That feeling apparently helps them think they’re more likely to perform better in those scenarios versus times when a save is not on the line. That mentality will have to change for a guy like Jeurys Familia, for example, if he’s going to be successful in 2018.
Spring Training will surely be a good place to work out those kinks, and get into the right frame of mind before the season starts. The Mets are going bullpenning in 2018, and I can’t wait to see how it goes.